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The administration says an executive amnesty for illegal immigrants already present in the U.S. is imminent. In fact, it may already be underway.

Part of the plan the president is expected to issue would defer deportations for the illegal-immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials appear to be preventing the deportations of such people already. The agency, according to multiple people interviewed, is increasingly citing “prosecutorial discretion” as it doles out deferrals of deportations.

Moises Herrera, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who is now living in Boston, was about to be deported by ICE officials when a petition from his attorney stopped them cold. Herrera’s lawyer, Jeffrey Rubin, filed a simple form with ICE to prevent Herrera’s deportation; Rubin says the applications for a stay of deportation or removal are “being widely used right now for people with final orders of removal.”

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